The internationally celebrated “Master of horror”, Dario Argento, shot several films in Turin: his link with what Le Corbusier defined “the city with the best natural position in the world” started early on. As Argento writes in his autobiography: “I was a child when I first came to Turin with my father, who was travelling there for work. We arrived in the evening, it was raining and I immediately thought it beautiful. It had just rained, the streets reflected the lights of these streetlamps, these yellow lights... the streets were sparkling. I liked it very much, there was a melancholy and somewhat uneasy atmosphere about it”. His first impressions grew over time to the extent that the director would later declare Turin to be the “place where my nightmares fit best”.Print itinerary
It is impossible to forget the majestic fountain with the marble giant, the allegorical depiction of the River Po, the main river of the city, as a bearded man, featured in Deep Red. The fountain stands in Piazza C.L.N. (also known as Piazza delle Fontane), a central square in Turin, where the film’s characters, Marc and the medium Helga Ullman, both live, in different apartments in the same building. The fountain where a drunk Carlo sits one evening is actually a twin monument that faces the Po on one side and the city’s second river, the Dora Riparia (as a shapely woman) on the other (albeit never seen in the film). The monumental fountain, sculpted by Umberto Baglioni, has another, esoteric, layer of meaning, as the Po and the Dora respectively symbolise the Sun and the male element and the Moon, the female. In Deep Red, Argento places the Blue Bar, clearly inspired by Edward Hopper’s painting, in the same square. There has been a bar, knowingly inspired by the Blue Bar, on the square since 2017 which at the time of production didn’t exist, an example of the film’s importance in the collective imagination. Villa Scott, embedded in the memory of many as the villa of the screaming child, can be found at Corso Giovanni Lanza 57 in the Borgo Po neighbourhood on the hill of Turin, it is a boarding school today. Here Marc carries out an essential survey for his investigations in total solitude and a silence broken by sinister noises, accompanied only by the spectral and thrilling Goblin soundtrack. Designed in 1901 by an engineer Pietro Fenoglio, Villa Scott is a splendid example of Art Deco and Rococo and is the setting for a key scene in Deep Red.
In The Cat o’ Nine Tails a murder investigation takes the main characters, Franco and Carlo, to research a tomb in the Monumental Cemetery of Turin. They slip into the cemetery at night finding themselves outside the funeral monument honouring 26 factory workers who died in the 1852 explosion on the Borgo Dora (a former military arsenal where a spark exploded tons of army gunpowder, putting the city at risk). The same cemetery features in Sleepless where the main character, Ulisse Moretti, a former police commissioner, investigates a series of murders reminiscent of his previous cases. This scene is set by day and features the exhumation of a tomb. In the cemetery’s Campo Primitivo, several sculptural groups are clearly seen by the entrance to the general ossarium: one with the scythe of the Monumento Grosso by Francesco Sassi and a prone woman by Alberto Giacomasso, an important sculptor in the Genovese School of the early 1900s.
Tailing an assassin is an activity that requires a lot of walking. The characters in Do you like Hitchcock? know something about this: Carlo Ceppi’s imposing Fontana dei 12 Mesi, comprising a rococo basin surrounded by 12 statues, one for each month of the year, is the backdrop for a conversation between Sasha and Federica who talk unaware that Giulio is spying on them. The fountain is in Parco del Valentino, the 42-hectare municipal park, symbol of the city, whose name derives from an ancient church that held the saint’s relics. The main characters in Giallo!, Inspector Enzo Avolfi and Linda Jefferson, discuss the investigation with the abducted woman’s sister while walking to Piazza Giambattista Bodoni which features the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory, a splendid building dating to 1866 that Argento had used previously in Four Flies on Grey Velvet.